*. Another trashy monster flick from the ’50s that’s nowhere near as entertaining as its camp reputation would lead you to believe. Not only is it not as good as the classics like Them!, it’s not even as much fun as Tarantula! (1955) or The Killer Shrews (1959), the latter also directed by Ray Kellogg, shot back-to-back with this movie, and released with it as a double feature.
*. Only 74 minutes long and still crushingly dull. The human story is worthless, being about a bunch of what I think are supposed to be teenagers hanging out, working on their hot rods, and going to dances. Then along comes the title monster to upset everyone. The hero has a sister who has to wear leg braces and he sings her a song. That such a short movie could have so much padding is really impressive.
*. Unfortunately they don’t have a lot of footage of the Giant Gila Monster (actually a Mexican Beaded Lizard) to show us. All Kellogg could come up with is a bored-looking lizard slowly crawling around some miniature sets. In fact, the scenes with the lizard are actually duller than the scenes with the kids, or the ones where the police bumble about trying to find out what’s going on.
*. Apparently one of the taglines ran: “Only Hell could breed such an enormous beast. Only God could destroy it!” That’s pretty misleading, since theology plays no role in the proceedings. What’s more, I don’t recall there being any explanation offered for how this giant creature came to be, or where it has been hiding all this time. The most we get is the suggestion that something in its diet threw its thyroid “out of whack.” That’s some thyroid.
*. As for the creature’s disappearing act, that’s taken care of by the opening voiceover: “In the enormity of the West, there are still vast and virtually unexplored regions, bleak and desolate, where no human ever goes and no life is ever seen. It is as though the land had been [I have no idea what the next word is] by God. It is in these lonely areas of the impenetrable forest and dark shadows that the Gila Monster still lives. How large the dreaded Gila Monster grows no man can say!”
*. It should have been good fun, like The Killer Shrews, but I found it nearly unwatchable. Not even good for a laugh, with or without a sarcastic commentary.